Daily Fantasy Terms and Definitions
Fantasy owners who are new to one-day fantasy sports might be confused by some of the industry’s terminology. I certainly had to look up a bunch of new words. Like sports gambling, one-day fantasy sports has a lot of slang terms. Below is a list of terms and definitions for daily fantasy sports. As I learn more about this hobby, I’ll come across more of the terminology and I’ll add to the lexicon below.
I also posted a page for traditional fantasy football terms.
# Draft – A designation on DraftKings. The percentage of owners who drafted a player into their starting lineup. This is the statistic at the heart of the Ethan Haskell scandal involving DraftKings and FanDuel.
+EV – Positive Expected Value. When a contest is a positive expected value, you expect a return on your investment. Players are searching for the +EV constantly. Those who find them are sharks.
-EV – Negative Expected Value. Where you do not expect a return on your investment. It’s best to avoid these situations.
$/Point – Dollars per Point. This is the amount of salary cap money you must spend per fantasy point. The lower the $/Point, the better.
15Day – The 15-day DL or disabled list in fantasy baseball.
50/50 League – Also known as a 50/50s. In these contests, 50% of the participants win and 50% of the contestants lose. For instance, if you find a 20-player 50/50 event, then 10 of the players will win money and the other 10 will lose their whole bet. In a 120-player event, then 60 win and 60 lose. If you consider yourself an above-average player, you might consider these instead of the head-to-head contests. The reason is the field is more predictable, and the results have less volatility. In a heads-up contests, only one person has to get lucky to beat you. If you can predict players well, in a 50/50 game, you should consistently be able to beat more than half of your competitors.
60Day – The 60-day DL.
7Day – The seven-day DL.
Action – The amount of money you have invested at the moment, or the money you have in play.
Amaya Gaming – Amaya Gaming is a Canadian corporation which bought PokerStars in 2014. That would have nothing to do with DFS, except Amaya Gaming bought Victiv in August 2015. Amaya CEO David Baazov plans to use the innovative Victiv gaming platform to launch a PokerStars DFS site. Either Victiv’s successor, StarsDraft, becomes a major third competitor, or the brand is banned in all the states planning to ban PokerStars as a bad actor: Nevada, Delaware, California, Pennsylvania, and maybe New Jersey. Stay tuned.
Bankroll – The amount of money you are willing to invest in the hobby. In practical purposes, this is the amount you have allotted for gaming, though it is really the theoretical amount you would spend. For the purposes of the casual DFS hobbyist, this would be the sum total of all the money you have in each DFS account you have. This should not be confused with the amount of money you own. In budgeting terms, bankroll is the amount of discretionary spending allotted for one-day fantasy gaming. Knowing this amount lets you figure out how much you should spend on entering contests.
Bearish – Having a pessimistic outlook on a particular player. These are players to be avoided or “faded”. A term borrowed from stock market investment circles.
Beginner – Beginner contests are found at DraftKings. DK allows new signups to enter up to 50 Beginner events per sport. Once you’ve entered 50 such events, your ability to do so is gone. The advantage of Beginner contests is the fact it contains newbies, who presumably haven’t figured out one-day fantasy sports and are therefore not as skilled. In poker, these would be considered events with “fish”.
Bullish – Having an optimistic outlook on a particular player. These are players you should target. Another term from stock market investing.
CBB – The term for NCAA Basketball on FanDuel. CBB stands for “College BasketBall”. Contests take place throughout the week from October to June.
CFB – The designation for NCAA Football on FanDuel. CFB stands for “College FootBall”. Contests take place on Thursdays and Saturdays most weeks, from late-August to mid-January.
Create Contest – The “Create Contest” button on FanDuel allows people to create their own tailor-made event. You’ll have a template of options. These are usually created by punters who want to challenge a friend.
“D” – Doubtful, an NFL Injury Report designation meaning a player has (roughly) a 25% chance of playing. This is not a good bet and I would suggest you should avoid starting these players, except in the direst of situations. In one-day DFS contests, I see no reason to depend on a player who is Doubtful to play.
Deposits – When you pay into your account. To make a deposit, you’ll need a VISA credit card or a PayPal account. MasterCard and American Express can be used via PayPal, but not without it.
DFS – Daily fantasy sports. You’ll also see these referred to as “one-day fantasy sports”.
DK – Draftkings.
DTD – Day-to-day.
Entry Fee – The amount of money is takes to enter a contest. If this were sports betting, the entry fee would be the wager. This is posted in the information for all contests, no matter what form they take. Entrants pay between $1 and $50,000 to enter events, depending on whether they are low rollers or high rollers.
Ethan Haskell – The DraftKings employee who placed 2nd on the Week 3 2015 NFL Sunday Million contest on FanDuel. After Haskell tweeted his draft percentage (% draft) stat on Twitter, readers began to question whether he had access to the player start percentages on DK, thus helping him make better decisions on FD. This caused the two services to disallow employees from playing DFS. It also touched-off a nationwide frenzy from gaming regulators, attorneys, state AGs, class-action lawsuit filers, and opportunistic politicians, who tried to push for bans or regulations of the DFS industry. One can only imagine how much money the various DFS sites lost in the resulting scandal, which was based mostly on ignorance.
Fade – Avoid. To fade a game is to avoid a game or a match-up. If you are told, “The Cowboys-Saints game should be faded because it’s missing Tony Romo and Drew Brees,” you’re getting advice to avoid a game where the scoring could be lower than normal. In truth, the concept is a little more subtle than that, though. Fading is important to understanding the arguments in the Ethan Haskell controversy. The idea is you fade a player who’s an obvious starter because you believe most (or many) other contestants are going to start the player. Theoretically, if you had a list of the most-started players on a site, you could fade them all and draft solid players with maybe slightly lesser chances of doing well, but many fewer people starting them.
FD – Fanduel.
FPPG – “Fantasy Points Per Game”. On DraftKings, this is a quick way to see what a player has scored on average per week (or contest) throughout this season. The higher this stat is, the better the player has done.
FPTS – Fantasy Points.
Fantasy Sports – Any game in which you use a group of individual performer’s statistics in a team sport to build an imaginary roster of your own. The statistics are tabulated using a scoring system, then your roster is pitted against the rosters of one or more other people. To constitute fantasy sports (and not sports betting) under US law, these rosters need to be from two or more real life contests. Traditional fantasy sports involve NFL football, Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, NHL hockey, NASCAR, or NCAA sports which play out over a full seasons or year of competition. In one-day fantasy sports, the contests all take place in one day, making the gambles much quicker.
First Down – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $40,000 guaranteed event. Those that have no familiarity with American football should know it’s refers to the first in a sequence of plays, in which an NFL or NCAA team has 4 players to gain 10 yards or more. If 10 yards is achieved, it is called “getting a first down”. If so, a new sequence of plays begins. If multiple 1st downs is achieved, it’s called “a drive”. If one gets with the opponent’s 10-yard line, then the sequence of plays is called 1st-and-goal, 2nd-and-goal, with goal meaning “goal to go” or you have to get to the goal line before your plays run out. Though teams have 4 plays to reach 10 yards, most teams prefer to punt on 4th down, for the sake of field position. Thus, 3rd down usually has a pivotal role in a drive.
Fish – A low-quality player in DFS; a donkey. The fish swims in the waters of DFS, but loses most of the time, i.e. gets eaten by sharks. The fish analogy is borrowed from the world of poker.
GL – Good Luck. Used as a polite sign-off in sit-n-draft contests.
GPP – Guaranteed Prize Pool. A large-field contest which generally has a large prize pool.
Gridiron – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $75,000 guaranteed event.
Grinder – A team owner who uses massive amounts of research, analysis, and spreadsheets to gain an advantage through skill. Opposed to a lucky winner. It has been noted that grinders win most of the Millionaire Maker and NFL Sunday Million events on the DFS sites.
Guaranteed – Events with a guaranteed prize pool, no matter how many entrants sign up. These cannot be canceled and therefore might have an overlay–what every good gambler searches to find.
Head-to-Head – The heads-up contest pits you against one other player. People can start or found such contests. In fact, you can open a head-to-head contest and invite a friend to join it. The head-to-head is for those who want personal match-ups. Also known as h-to-h.
History – When you click on this link on the homepage of FanDuel, this page allows you to look back on former contests you’ve had. Analysis is key when trying to master fantasy football and its counterparts in the other sports. Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, they say. If that holds for life, then it holds for fantasy sports, too.
Hot Route – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $25,000 guaranteed event.
IR – Injured reserve. An NFL term.
Injury Report – The all-important NFL injury report is key to mid-week starting lineup decisions in daily fantasy football. Reading the tea leaves of the various injury status updates is important to finding value among backups and avoiding the 0 which would ruin your chances. Because of the every day, or every other day, rhythm of the MLB, NBA, and NHL seasons, monitoring the injury reports is at least as important in those sports.
Juice – FanDuel and DraftKings charge a fee for hosting contests and paying off the winners fair-and-square. This fee is known as the juice. It’s the same as the vigorish or the vig in sports gambling. The fee is 10% of your entry fee. Your opponent also pays the same juice. That’s why, if you enter a $10 contest, then you stand to gain back $18 if you win. You pay $10, $9 of it goes into the pot, and $1 is taken as juice. Your opponent spends $10 and $9 goes to the pot and $1 goes to the operator. That leaves $18 in the pot.
League – Leagues requirement a certain number of contestants to proceed. They include between 3 and 250 entries on FanDuel. League’s have a payout structure akin to freezeout tournaments in poker. In a 50/50 League with 20 players, it doesn’t matter whether you finished in 1st place or 10th place: you win the same amount. In a “League”, winning 1st place is much better than winning 10th. The higher you place in the money, the more your winnings.
Lineup Restrictions – Sites might have lineup restrictions. For instance, FanDuel requires owners to pick players from at least 3 different contests. Also, owners cannot pick more than four players from any one team.
Live – When you click on this link on the homepage of FanDuel, it presents a list of the contests you have entered which are currently underway. The scores update at the live games transpire across America.
Lobby – Where a customizable list of contests can be found in your web browser. This is the homepage of the site. This describes the type of contest, the number of entries at present, the size of the player pool, the entry fee, the prize pool, and when the contest starts. Times are usually given for Eastern Standard Time in the USA. This is where you can click to join an event, paying money as an entry fee.
Millionaire Maker – An event on DraftKings which offers a million dollar prize to the 1st place winner, thus making the winner a technical millionaire. Such events take place each Sunday of the NFL season, and involve a $27 entry fee.
Multipliers – Multiplier events at DraftKings allow a player to win either 3x or 10x their entry fee. Multipliers are therefore just another type of payout schedule.
Narrative Stream – Similar to the often-invoked “intangibles”, narrative stream is often used by broadcasters and prognosticators in their game previews. If an NFL player is set to play in their hometown or on their birthday, then that might become part of the narrative. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with whether a player is going to be effective or not. In fact, many statistics-based gamers are going to see a narrative stream as nonsense. Others put a lot of stock into the narrative.
“O” – Out. An NFL Injury Report designation meaning the player already has been declared “Out” of the game. Never start a player with this designation.
One-Day Fantasy Sports – “One-Day” is just another industry term for daily fantasy. The key distinction is the whole game is played out over a short period of time, either one afternoon or one night during a long season. Players from a handful of games from that day’s schedule are available as starters.
One-Week Leagues – “One-Week” tends to refer to fantasy football. Unlike baseball and basketball, football players can’t play every day or every other day. They play once a week, so you can only bet once a week (for the most part).
Opp – On DraftKings, this means “opponent”, and is not a reference to a 90s hip-hop classic.
OPRK – “Opponent Rank”. On DraftKings, the OPRK Column shows an opposing unit’s rating at giving up fantasy points. For instance, if you have a running back, it would be that RB’s weekly opponent’s rank against runners. Green OPRK is a good match-up; Red OPRK is a bad match-up; and White OPRK is a neutral match-up.
Overlay – If you have a tournament where the number of contestants isn’t enough to cover the costs for the website, then it is an overlay. On the FanDuel $2.5 Million Sunday Tournament, the prize pool is a guaranteed $2,500,000. Each contestant pays $25. For the site to break even, 100,000 players must join the contest. If 90,000 owners join, then there’s an overlay. This presents a positive expectation game for the gambler. In such a scenario, if you’re an average player, you can expect to win more money than you lose. To borrow a gambling term, there is no house edge–the player has the edge. This is not easy to find on DraftKings and FanDuel. On lesser DFS sites, these can be found. Search for these right before a contest happens and you should do well.
“P” – Probable,an NFL injury report designation meaning a player has a 75% chance of playing.
PHR – Player Holes Remaining. In fantasy golf, this tells you how many more holes you have to catch up, if behind, or how many holes your opponent’s team has left. See “PMR” below for a more in-depth explanation of these terms.
PIR – Player Minutes, Innings, or Holes Remaining. This tells you how much more gameplay you have to catch up, if behind. See “PMR” for a more in-depth explanation of how this works on DraftKings.
Play-Action – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $200,000 guaranteed event. In real world football, a play-action pass is when the quarterback fakes the ball to a running back as if the team plans to run the ball, then passes the ball instead.
PMR – “Player Minutes Remaining”. During contests on DraftKings, players will notice the PMR stat. This is player-minutes-remaining, showing how much more time a starting lineup has to score. Each player on your roster has 60 minutes. You can look at this stat and have a pretty good gauge of how many more players your opponents have left to go, and how much danger there is they’ll catch your point total.
Point-Per-Reception – Often written as PPR, this is where wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs get a point for every reception. In daily fantasy, some scoring systems allow for a half-point (HPPR) instead of a PPR. This changes the strategy, because receivers are less consistent getting only 0.5 points.
“Q” – Questionable, an NFL injury report designation meaning a player has a roughly 50% chance of playing.
Qualifiers – Qualifiers are like satellite events in online poker. If you win a qualifier, you win a prize and also qualify for a bigger event with a much bigger prize. The term is used for DraftKings events.
Redshirt – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $500 guaranteed event. In real world NCAA football, if a team wants to give a freshman more time to mature, they can redshirt the player, which means they do not lose a year of eligibility. They can practice with the team (in a red shirt), but cannot play. Also, a medical redshirt distinction exists, in which players of any grade are given an additional year of eligibility when they have season-ending injuries.
ROI – “Return on investment”. This is a term from the world of finance and stock market investing. It applies to fantasy sports, if you break down the games into pure numbers and view the contests as mere short term investments. Smart gamblers look for overlay opportunties: essentially guaranteed tournaments that haven’t filled to capacity. (See “Overlay”)
Rookie League – A rookie league is specifically designated for other new signups on FanDuel. The idea is that newcomers can compete against other newbies. Since most of you should be new to the hobby, you theoretically have a better chance of winning than playing against the old pros and the real professional gamblers.
Shark – A high-quality player in DFS. Term borrowed from the poker community. Think back to your local league and imagine the handful of teams who are consistently near the top of the league. These would be the sharks. Not to be confused with whales, who wager a lot. A shark might be a high-roller, a medium roller, or a low roller.
Slant – On Draftkings, the name for an NFL $50,000 guaranteed event. In real world football, a slant route is one in which the receiver (usually) runs a 3-yard, 5-yard, or 7-yard route, then changes direction to run diagonally across the middle of the field. The idea is to get beyond the linebackers, but underneath the safeties. This is a bread-and-butter route for many teams wanting to move the chains, but requires a tough receiver to deal with the hits it requires. The Troy Aikman-to-Michael Irvin slant route was a lethal weapon for the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, but Irvin eventually ended his career on a slant route.
Stacking – To pair multiple players from one team in your starting lineup, hoping to increase upside. This is especially common in fantasy baseball. Also, it is a suggested strategy in the big tournaments, as a way of increasing volatility.
StarsDraft – The soon-to-be rebranded name for Victiv. Victiv was bought by Amaya Gaming, owner of PokerStars.
Steps – Steps allow someone to enter at $2 and work themselves up to $200 prizes, by winning through several stages of play. Consider them like qualifiers, but with a much better chances of winning (and smaller prizes). Step events are found at DraftKings.
Sweat – To watch a game which has a lot riding on it. This might be a fantasy playoff game or a high stakes DFS contest. Usually refers to a close contest, especially the late stages of that contest. “I’m sweating whether LeGarette Blount scores a touchdown versus the Colts on Sunday Night Football.”
Tilt – Tilting is to develop anxiety or stress about an event’s outcome, which leads to sub-optimal decisions. Another term borrowed from Texas hold’em, “going on tilt” means make decisions based on (negative) psychological factors. It is similar to getting “psyched out” by an opponent, but often has more to do with your own inner psychological structures than what any opponent does to your mindset.
Tournament – Tournaments are different than leagues in that they are guarnteed. These are the events you want to target if you want to find an overlay. Tournaments also tend to have much larger fields of players, though the sizes of the field fluctuate greatly.
Train – To enter the same lineup multiple times in the same contest. In a one-off contest like the NFL Sunday Million, this is the equivalent of paying twice to play. Only in qualifiers is this strategy advisable. In a qualifier, winning with the same lineup would mean you would have multiple entries into a subsequent event.
Unfilled Contests – “Guaranteed” contests always run, regardless of how many people enter. Those which do not say “Guaranteed” might close if enough players do not join them. When one of these contests hasn’t filled up, it’s called unfilled and you know it might be canceled.
Upcoming – When you click on this link on the homepage of FanDuel, it presents a list of the contests you have entered on FanDuel, but which haven’t started yet. With upcoming events, you can still go into the system and make changes to your starting lineup. Choose wisely.
Value Pick – Any player who is worth more than the salary cap value assigned to him. Finding value picks is the way owners weigh the odds in their favor, especially in the head-to-head and 50/50 contests.
Victiv – A competitor to FanDuel and DraftKings. Launched in September 2014, the DFS site had enough bells and whistles to make it arguably the #3 competitor in the market in under a year. In summer 2015, the Texas-based Victiv was purchased by David Baazov of Amaya Gaming, who hopes to leverage its PokerStars database into a massive new competitor: “StarsDraft”.
Volatility – The amount of luck or risk that’s in a gamble. In some DFS contests, you want to control risk by selecting consistent players. In others where getting lucky is most important, players seek moves that boost volatility. This is a credible strategy in Millionaire Maker contests and other big events, because of the luck required to win such an event.
Vulture – In football, a vulture is a fullback or goal line back who scores a touchdown another player deserves (from your perspective). A touchdown vulture tends to come in during short yardage situations, or is run by the team primarily during these situations. Mike Tolbert has been a TD-vulture from Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart the last couple of seasons. “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell was a touchdown vulture from Barry Sanders back in his hay day. Mike Anderson was at various times in his career, though he also had one or two years as a serious fantasy stud, too.
Whale – A high-volume player in DFS; a high-roller. This player can be good or bad. Borrowed from the poker community.
Winning – Collecting money at the end of the contest. Finding the winning strategy is what we all seek. Just win, baby.
World Champ Qualifier – A satellite event for a larger tournament. The winner gets a free entry into the DraftKings Fantasy Football World Champ field, which has a $15,000,000 prize pool.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports Daily – In July 2015, Yahoo! launched its own daily fantasy sports site. Given its long association with fantasy football and fantasy baseball and its database of 6 million-plus fantasy owners, Yahoo could provide stiff competition for FanDuel and DraftKings. Its launch was virtually unannounced and the site doesn’t even have welcome bonuses, so the launch seemed more like a beta test. Even the name shows the backward approach–Fantasy Sports Daily twists around the industry’s name.
YouTube Interview on Industry Terminology
If you want more information on DFS terminology, or you simply learn better from listening than reading this set of PokerNews interviews with top players: Drew Dinkmeyer (“Dinkpiece”), Peter Jennings (“CSURAM88”), Erik Hafner (“Ehafner”), and David Kitchen (“Draftkings Pro”). The video is helpful, because the owners provide background and context on terms like narrative stream, overlay, fantasy goodness, contrarian play, lineup stack, train, and theater mode.
Every gaming culture has its own slang. Introducing yourself to the industry on forums and message boards requires a certain familiarity with the words, and I found the PokerNews Dotcom piece to be a nice glimpse into how certain words become trendy.
That’s a basic overview of the daily fantasy sports dictionary. Many of the catchwords and phrases used in sports betting are going to apply in DFS, but the two hobbies have distinct languages all their own. Also, the various one-day fantasy sports websites have different terminology for similar events. As I play at more DFS sites, I’ll continue to add to the list of definitions. I have to encounter them myself first, I’m afraid.